CMS responds to state Medicaid directors' calls for help

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State Medicaid directors should refrain from making short-term cuts, and instead focus on long-term changes in partnership with the federal government, the head of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said this week.

In remarks during a conference of the National Association of Medicaid Directors on Nov. 9, the CMS Administrator Donald Berwick said there are two ways to contain costs.

“We can reduce our ambition and cut, or we can improve our way to success,” Berwick said, according to published reports. Berwick explained that some amount of cutting “is inevitable,” but “it pales in comparison to the savings we can get with improvements in care.”

But the agency also said it's committed to doing its part in reforming Medicaid. CMS' director of the Center for Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program, Cindy Mann, outlined several items geared around service delivery and payment reform. Mann told the Medicaid Directors — who had recently asked for more assistance from the government — that CMS has created Medicaid state technical assistance teams. These teams will work with state Medicaid officials to develop state-centered solutions.

Mann also announced that CMS is launching a new website later this month, called www.Medicaid.gov, Mann said.